In different eukaryotic model systems, chromatin and gene expression are modulated by post-translational modification of histone tails. In this in vivo study, histone methylation and acetylation are investigated along the imprinted mouse genes Snrpn, Igf2r and U2af1-rs1. These imprinted genes all have a CpG-rich regulatory element at which methylation is present on the maternal allele, and originates from the female germ line. At these 'differentially methylated regions' (DMRs), histone H3 on the paternal allele has lysine-4 methylation and is acetylated. On the maternally inherited allele, in contrast, chromatin is marked by hypermethylation on lysine-9 of H3. Allele-specific patterns of lysine-4 and lysine-9 methylation are also detected at other regions of the imprinted loci. For the DMR at the U2af1-rs1 gene, we establish that the methyl-CpG-binding-domain (MBD) proteins MeCP2, MBD1 and MBD3 are associated with the maternal allele. These data support the hypothesis that MBD protein-associated histone deacetylase/chromatin-remodelling complexes are recruited to the parental allele that has methylated DNA and H3-K9 methylation, and are prevented from binding to the opposite allele by H3 lysine-4 methylation.